WASHINGTON – Joe Gibbs resigned as coach and team president of the Washington Redskins on Tuesday, three days after his team's playoff loss concluded a season marked by the killing of safety Sean Taylor.
The Redskins said in a statement that Gibbs will remain part of the Redskins family and serve as a special adviser to owner Dan Snyder. Gibbs was to discuss his decision at a 3 p.m. news conference at Redskins Park.
The Redskins will begin a search for a new coach immediately. Among the certain candidates are two former head coaches on Gibbs' staff, Gregg Williams and Al Saunders.
Gibbs went 31-36, including 1-2 in the playoffs, after emerging from NFL retirement and his NASCAR career to sign a five-year, $27.5 million contract in 2004. He had always maintained that he intended to fulfill the contract, but the 67-year-old coach wavered from that stance Monday when asked if he would return for the final year of his deal.
Gibbs' resignation brings an apparent end to a Hall of Fame coaching career in which he twice raised the Redskins from mediocrity into a playoff team, although he failed in his goal of bringing the team back to the Super Bowl during his second stint in Washington. Gibbs won three NFL titles during his first tenure from 1981-92; the second time around he took the team to the postseason in two of his four seasons.
It also follows one of the best coaching performances of his career, his leadership helping the Redskins focus after Taylor's death on Nov. 27. Washington won its final four regular season games after Taylor's funeral, going from 5-7 to 9-7 to claim the final playoff berth in the NFC.
The emotional run ended Saturday, when the Redskins lost 35-14 at Seattle in the wild-card playoffs.
"It was the toughest (season) for me," Gibbs said Monday. "When you go through a season like that, for a while it's kind of hard to re-grasp reality."
Gibbs has also endured a personal crisis for a year. One of his grandsons, Taylor, was diagnosed with leukemia last January at the age of 2. Gibbs frequently talks lovingly about his "grandbabies," and he made an overnight to North Carolina on Sunday to be with his family, interrupting the postseason routine of meetings that usually follow the final game of the season.
Still, for much of the season, Gibbs seemed intent on returning to coach. Players and coaches said publicly and privately over the last week that they would be shocked if he didn't stay on to finish the job. Last month, he said he would be open to discussing a contract extension so that he would not return next season as a lame-duck coach.
At a news conference Monday, Gibbs spoke about plans for next season — the team's approach to free agency, offseason workouts and the possibility of an open quarterback competition at training camp — as if he were going to remain on the sidelines. However, he hedged when asked if he would definitely be back, saying it would hinge on his meeting Monday night with Snyder.
"Everybody's situation will be taken into context here — including mine, and my future here and all that," Gibbs said Monday.